Wealden District Council

Electoral Registration and Voting - Frequently Asked Questions

Electoral Registration

Change to the way you register to vote from 10 June 2014

The Electoral Registration system changed on 10 June 2014.  The new registration system is called Individual Electoral Registration (IER).  You can now Register to vote online (external link)

How is the new system different?

  • You can now Register to vote online (external link)
  • Everyone is responsible for registering themselves.  Under the new system unregistered people who want to register to vote can Register to vote online (external link) or complete an Individual Registration Form (pdf).  Under the old system the head of every household could register everyone who lived at the address by completing the annual canvass form which is sent, by local authorities, every year.
  • A member of the household can complete a Household Enquiry Form (pdf) to advise us of the individuals who are residing at the property.  We will, then, send an Individual Registration Form (pdf) to each of the individuals listed.  It is, therefore, quicker and easier for each member of the household to register themselves online.
  • You will need to provide a few more details to register, including your national insurance number and date of birth.  If you are unsure of your national insurance number this can be found on your national insurance card or in official paperwork such as payslips or letters about benefits or tax credits.

Already on the register - Will I need to do anything?

Most people who are already registered to vote will not need to do anything.  They will be registered automatically under the new system.  We will write to these people in July 2014 to let them know the change has taken place and that they are registered as an individual.

However, a minority of people who are already registered to vote under the existing system will need to take action to make sure they are registered under the new system.  We will write to these people following the change to let them know what to do.  There will also be advertisements about the change in July 2014.

We will write to you in July 2014 to let you know if you need to take any further action.

Why should I bother to register?

This country is a democracy. Every day, vital decisions affecting all our lives are taken by members of parliament and local councillors elected by the people. You can help choose them by voting. If you don't register, you won't be able to vote, and you will lose your chance to influence the way things are run in your town or village, in the Wealden district, in the county, and in the whole country.

I am concerned about my name appearing on the register; can I register anonymously?

The Electoral Administration Act 2006 introduced the ability to register anonymously. Anyone who believes their safety would be at risk if their name appeared on the electoral register can apply to be registered anonymously, although evidence would have to be provided for this.

In order to register anonymously, you will need either:

  • evidence of a court order that is currently in force to protect you, or
  • attestation from a qualified person in support of your application.

People qualified to support applications:

  • Police officers of the rank of superintendent or above (from any police force across the UK)
  • Director General of the Security Services or the Serious Organised Crime Agency
  • a Director of Adult Social Services or Children's Services in England, a Director of Social Services in Wales, a Chief Social Work Officer in Scotland, a Director of Social Services or an Executive Director of Social Work in Northern Ireland

You can download an Anonymous Registration Form (pdf) or contact the Electoral Services Office for one to be sent to you. Please read these notes, Anonymous Registration Guidance Notes (doc), before filling in the form.

If you are registered anonymously, instead of your name and address appearing on the electoral register a code will be added to the end of the section of the register for your polling district. Instead of including you on the annual canvass form, the Electoral Registration Officer will contact you separately and in such a way as to not reveal that you are registered anonymously. You will receive an enveloped poll card and you must take this with you to be able to vote.

Anyone who is registered anonymously may not sign a candidate's nomination papers.

Anonymous registrations must be renewed every year; we will send you a renewal form shortly before your renewal is due.

Where can I view the Electoral Register?

The Electoral Register can be viewed at the Council's offices in Hailsham.

We do not publish the Electoral Register on the Internet.

There are two versions of the Electoral Register; to read more about this, please see Why are there two versions of the Register? The edited register can be viewed for any purpose; the full register can only be viewed for electoral purposes, e.g. to check your own registration details to see if they are correct.

Why are there two versions of the register?

Using information received from the public, registration officers keep two registers - the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).

The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections.

The register is used for electoral purposes - such as making sure only eligible people can vote - and for other limited purposes specified in law.  The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data-protection legislation.

Who uses the electoral register?

  • Election staff, political parties, candidates and holders of elected office use the register for electoral purposes.
  • Your local council and the British Library hold copies that anyone may look at under supervision.  A copy is also held by the EC, the Boundary Commissions (which set constituency boundaries for most elections) and the Office for National Statistics.
  • The council can use the register for duties relating to security, enforcing the law and preventing crime.  The police and the security services can also use it for law enforcement.
  • The register is used when calling people for jury service.
  • Government departments may buy the register from local registration officers and use it to help prevent and detect crime.  They can also use it to safeguard national security by checking the background of job applicants and employees.
  • Credit reference agencies can buy the register.  They help other organisations to check the names and addresses of people applying for credit.  They also use it to carry out identity checks when trying to prevent and detect money laundering.

It is a criminal offence for anyone to supply or use the register for anything else.

The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections.  It can be bought by any person, company or organisation.  For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details.  The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data protection legislation.

Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed.  Removing your details from the open register would not affect your right to vote.

Who uses the open register?

Users of the open register include:

  • Businesses checking the identity and address details of people who apply for their services such as insurance, goods hire and property rental, as well as when they shop online;
  • Businesses selling age-restricted goods or services, such as alcohol and gambling online, to meet the rules on verifying the age of their customers;
  • Charities and voluntary agencies, for example to help maintain contact information for those who have chosen to donate bone marrow and to help people separated by adoption to find each other;
  • Charities, to help with fundraising and contacting people who have made donations;
  • Debt collection agencies when tracing people who have changed address without telling their creditors;
  • Direct marketing firms when maintaining their mailing lists;
  • Landlords and letting agents when checking the identity of potential tenants;
  • Local councils when identifying and contacting residents;
  • Online directory firms to help users of the websites find people, such as when reuniting friends and families;
  • Organisations tracing and identifying beneficiaries of wills, pensions and insurance policies;
  • Private sector firms to verify details of job applicants.

All of our registration forms give the option to opt out of the open (edited) register. If you wish to opt out, simply tick the box when filling in the form.

I have changed my name, how do I amend my details on the register?

To change your name on the Electoral Register please download and print the Change of Name Form (pdf).  You will also need send proof of your change of name by sending us either a marriage or civil partnership certificate; an overseas marriage or civil partnership certificate; an amended birth certificate or a deed poll.  If you do not have any of these please contact us on the contact details at the bottom of this page.

Please post the signed and completed form to Electoral Services, using the contact details at the bottom of the page.

Voting

How do I vote?

If your name is on the electoral register and your are aged 18 or over, you should get a poll card about 20 days before an election. The poll card will tell you where to vote and the times that the polling station will be open.

This List of Polling Stations (pdf) shows where the polling stations are in each of Wealden's District Wards.

The clerk at the polling station will confirm your name and address, check your name is on the register and then give you a ballot paper.

The ballot paper will say how many candidates you can vote for. Take the ballot paper to one of the polling booths and put a cross (X) in the box next to the name of the candidate(s) you want to support.

Do not write anything else on the ballot paper or your vote will not be counted. Once you have voted you must fold the ballot paper to hide your vote. Place your folded ballot paper in the locked ballot box. You don't have to tell anyone who you voted for.

If there is more than one election taking place at once (e.g. a parish and a district election), you may have more than one ballot paper to complete. If this is the case, these ballot papers will go in separate ballot boxes. Please pay close attention to what the presiding officer and poll clerks tell you.

Can anyone vote?

No. You have to be 18 or over. You must also be:

  • A British citizen; or
  • A citizen of another Commonwealth country; or
  • A citizen of a British Overseas Territory; or
  • A citizen of the Republic of Ireland; or
  • For certain elections (excluding UK Parliamentary Elections), a citizen of another European Union country.

See the link below for a full list of Commonwealth countries, British Overseas Territories and European Union member states.

Commonwealth, British Overseas Territories and European Union Member States (doc)

Your name must be included on the register of electors, otherwise you can not vote.

I have just had my 18th birthday, do I have to wait until the next electoral register is prepared before I can vote?

No. As soon as you are 18 you can vote provided that your name is entered on the electoral register.

I am a British Citizen living abroad, can I vote?

Yes- you can vote in British General and European Parliamentary Elections if you are registered as an overseas elector.

To be eligible you must:

  • be a British citizen
  • have moved abroad less than 15 years ago
  • have been on the electoral register in the Wealden area before you moved abroad (or if you were under 18 when you moved abroad, your parent(s)/guardian(s) must have been on the register) - if you were last registered elsewhere than Wealden, apply to the local council for that area

You can Register to vote online (external link), alternatively you can download and print an Electoral Registration form for a British citizen living overseas (pdf). Please complete, sign and return the application to the address at the bottom of the page. 

As an overseas elector you can apply to vote by post or proxy (a proxy is where you appoint someone in the UK to vote on your behalf) by completing a Proxy Vote Application (pdf) or a Postal Vote Application (pdf). Please note that we strongly advise that you appoint a proxy rather than electing to vote by post - the statutory electoral timetables do not allow us to begin dispatching postal ballot papers until at most eleven working days before polling day, so depending on the postal service to your country of residence there may not be time for you to complete and return your ballot papers.

If you appoint a proxy, they will be able to vote at the polling station for your previous Wealden address, or they can apply to cast your vote by post if they are unable to get to this polling station on election day. We will automatically send any appointed proxy who lives outside the Wealden area a form to this effect.

Please post the completed form to the address at the bottom of the page.

Special Category Electors

If you fall into one of the following categories and wish to register to vote you will need to register under Individual Registration from 10 June 2014;

  • HM Forces service voters (and their spouses or civil partners)
  • Crown servants and British Council employees (and their spouses or civil partners)
  • People living in the UK but who have no permanent address or fixed address
  • Patients in mental hospitals whose stay at the hospital is sufficient for them to be regarded as resident there
  • Remand prisoners whose stay at a penal institution is sufficient for them to be regarded as resident there

You can Register to vote online (external link), alternatively you can download, complete, sign and return the relevant application below and return to Electoral Services, Wealden District Council, Vicarage Lane, Hailsham BN27 2AX

Postal and Proxy Voting

Postal Voting

Anyone can apply for a postal vote for all elections, or for a particular election, without needing to give a reason.

You can download and print a Postal Vote Application (pdf) which should be completed in black pen, or contact Electoral Services by telephone 01892 602417 or by email elections@wealden.gov.uk for a form to be sent to you.

The last time for the receipt of applications for new postal votes for a particular election is 5pm 11 working days before polling day. This is also the deadline for making any changes to existing postal or proxy votes.

Proxy Voting

Alternatively, you can apply to appoint a proxy who would vote at your polling station on your behalf. If you choose to vote by proxy at a particular election you are required to give a reason, e.g. illness, disability, employment, attendance on a course etc. If you choose to vote by proxy for all elections you will also need to give a reason and get someone to support your application. The people who are qualified to support your application are listed in the notes on the second page of the form.

People appointed as proxies must:
a) themselves be eligible to vote at that/those election(s)
b) only be proxy for a maximum of two people (unless they are related to them).

You can download and print a Proxy Vote Application (pdf) or contact Electoral Services by telephone 01892 602417 or by email elections@wealden.gov.uk for a form to be sent to you.

The last time for the receipt of applications for new proxy votes for a particular election is 5pm 6 working days before polling day.

Emergency Proxy Voting

If you suffer a medical emergency, which renders you unable to get to your polling station, and the deadline for proxy applications at that particular election has already passed, you can apply to appoint an emergency proxy using the form below

Application to Vote by Emergency Proxy Medical (pdf)

or you can contact Electoral Services by telephone 01892 602417 or by email elections@wealden.gov.uk for a form to be sent to you.

You will need a supporting signature from a medical practitioner, social worker or similar to confirm your circumstances. The list of people who can support your application is in the notes included with the form. The completed application form must reach us by 5pm on polling day.

If you are unable to attend the polling station in person for reasons relating to your occupation, service or employment you can apply to appoint an emergency proxy using the form below

Application to vote by Emergency Proxy Employment (pdf)

If you are self employed you will need a supporting signature from a person aged 18 or over who knows you, this person cannot be your spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister or grandchild.

If you are employed you will need a supporting signature from your employer or an authorised person at your workplace.

If you are a member of HM Forces, a Crown Servant or a British Council Employee, or a spouse or civil partner of one of the above, and registered as a Service voter you do not need to support your application.

Please note that this application can only be used in cases of medical emergencies or employment emergencies which have occurred since the standard proxy voting deadline (six working days before the election) - for pre-existing medical conditions the postal and proxy voting procedures and deadlines above still apply.

Does it matter if I lose my poll card?

No - you can still vote without it. The poll card is for information only. It just makes it easier if you take it to the polling station and show it to the clerk there.

I have just found out that I will be away on polling day. Can I still vote?

Yes - but you need to apply for a postal vote or appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf. You should do this as soon as possible because we cannot accept any postal vote applications which are received after 5pm on the eleventh working day before polling day or any proxy vote applications which are received after 5pm on the sixth working day before polling day.

Postal Voting

Anyone can apply for a postal vote for all elections, or for a particular election, without needing to give a reason.

You can download and print a Postal Vote Application (pdf) which should be completed in black pen, or contact Electoral Services by telephone on 01892 602417 or by email to elections@wealden.gov.uk for a form to be sent to you.

Proxy Voting

Alternatively, you can apply to appoint a proxy who would vote at your polling station on your behalf. If you choose to vote by proxy at a particular election you are required to give a reason, e.g. illness, disability, employment, attendance on a course etc. If you choose to vote by proxy for all elections you will also need to give a reason and get someone to support your application. The people who are qualified to support your application are listed in the notes on the second page of the form.

You can download and print a Proxy Vote Application Form (pdf)or contact Electoral Services by telephone on 01892 602417 or by email to elections@wealden.gov.uk for a form to be sent to you.

I thought voting was secret. Why does the clerk write my poll number on a list?

It is a legal requirement that poll numbers are written on a numbered list. The procedure exists to detect and prove any possible abuses or fraud. At the end of the poll, the lists are sealed in a secure packet. The packet containing the numbered list is not opened at the count.

At the end of the count the counted ballot papers are also sealed in a secure packet.

After the election the sealed packets are held securely within the Council Offices. The sealed packets can only be opened by an Order from the High Court or County Court provided that the Court is satisfied that an Order is needed to help prosecute for an election offence.

The procedure is there to protect the integrity of the democratic process and not to undermine it. Your vote is, therefore, secret.

Who are the people who ask for my poll number outside the polling station?

These people are called tellers and are used by each of the main political parties to help with their election campaigns. They have no standing in electoral law and are not connected with the official election process.

You don't have to give them your poll number if you don't want to.

Are there any special arrangements for voters with disabilities?

Yes - each polling station will have one booth that is wider and has a lower writing shelf designed for voters using a wheelchair. If a polling station has alternative access for wheelchair users this will be signposted.

For voters with sight difficulties there is a large copy of the ballot paper available to read, although the ballot paper that is issued will be the same for everyone. A device with both raised and Braille numbers which can be attached to the ballot paper is also available at each polling station.

If you would like to know whether disabled car parking and toilet facilities are available at your polling station, and what, if any, accessibility issues you might encounter, you can check our Polling Station Accessibility Report (pdf)

Our polling stations are kept under review at all times.  We welcome any comments from electors if they feel there are issues with a particular polling station.

The Presiding Officer or a voter's companion can assist a voter with disabilities. Anyone who helps a voter in this way will be required to complete a declaration at the polling station.

Alternatively, you can apply for a postal vote or appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf.

What happens if I make a mistake on my ballot paper?

If you make a mistake on your ballot paper show it to the clerk at the polling station and ask for another one - do not put the spoilt paper in the ballot box. The clerk will issue you with a new paper and put your spoilt paper in a sealed envelope.

What happens after the voting has finished?

Immediately after voting has finished, the ballot box is sealed by the staff to ensure that nothing can be added to or taken from the box.

The box is taken to the count location where the contents are counted with the ballot papers from other polling stations.

The candidate who receives most votes is declared the winner and is elected to the position contested. Where more than one position is being contested, there will be more than one winner - e.g. in a two-member district ward the candidates with the most and second-most votes will be elected.

Contact Electoral Services